SNYDER — Fort Worth Arlington Heights refused to let any excuses get in the way of a return trip to Austin for the seniors.
The Yellow Jackets shook off second-half injuries to a pair of senior leaders and handed Trophy Club Nelson a 51-41 defeat Saturday in the Class 4A Region I boys championship at Western Texas College.
Arlington Heights (23-11) will make its second appearance at the state tournament in three seasons on Thursday at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.
It goes back to these seniors who have played here before, Arlington Heights coach John Wagner said. They know what it takes to win. These seniors wanted to go back to state again and played how they had to at the end.
Senior 6-foot-8 center Damontre McFarland and senior forward Justin Hemphill went down with injuries within a minute of each other early in the third quarter, leaving AShawn Robinson to shoulder the scoring load. The 6-5, 300-pound Robinson, an Alabama football signee, went to work in the paint.
Robinson, the tournament MVP, scored five of his 13 points in the third period. When Nelson (30-6) sent extra defenders at him, Robinson found teammates cutting to the basket for layups or trips to the free-throw line.
I knew we werent going to lose, said Robinson, who added nine rebounds, three blocks and two assists. I was going to do everything I had to do, no matter what, for us not to lose. I figured if he goes down and he goes down, then I have to give that much more effort and just go out there and play.
Hemphill missed the rest of the game with a shoulder injury, and his status is uncertain for the state tournament. McFarland, who was an all-tournament selection, returned in the fourth quarter and quickly made an impact by scoring six of his team-high 14 points in the period.
Nelson struggled to knock down shots in the second half. The Bobcats endured a four-minute scoreless stretch that started at the end of the third quarter. The Yellow Jackets built a seven-point lead before Nelson senior point guard Keyunta Wakins buried a 3-pointer with 2:26 remaining.
Arlington Heights answered with a 7-2 run over the final minute .
The loss ends a storybook season for Nelson, which opened in 2009 and had never won a playoff game before this season.
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JohnsonJarret
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